[Citizendium-l] Update

Larry Sanger sanger-lists at citizendium.org
Sat Apr 21 20:31:16 EDT 2007


We're long overdue for an update.


Our launch, which happened about a month ago, was a tremendous success.  It
generated well over 200 mentions of CZ in the press (by the Google News


but more importantly, we ballooned from 820 authors just prior to launch to
1504 as I write this--almost doubling our numbers.


For this we have our wonderful constables, such as Robert Tito, David Tribe,
and Sarah Tuttle, to thank.  Our editor pool has grown from 180 to 228 (and,
as usual I'm afraid, a long backlog waiting to get in).


The number of "CZ Live" articles has grown from 1100 to 1550--a respectable
rate of about 15 articles per day, and certainly a higher rate than we had a
few months ago.  Actually, the number of articles we've created is higher
than that, because while doing the Big Cleanup, we have removed many "CZ
Live" tags from articles that were mistagged.


Speaking of that, the Big Cleanup continues apace.


Whereas we had checklisted 721 articles on April 4, we now have 1400.


That's well over half of all the article pages on the wiki.  With 23%, or
327, of these articles "Advanced" (either Approved or Developed), and
another 32%, or 442, "Developing," well over half of the articles in our
database are beyond stub stage and have been significantly changed, if they
were taken from Wikipedia (and many haven't been).


I can assure you that, after only five months, that's excellent work.  After
five months, the average level of quality of articles on Wikipedia was *far*
below this.  We're even doing respectably compared to where Wikipedia was at
this time in terms of sheer numbers of articles--*despite* our first four
months being a private pilot project, requiring sign-up, and requiring the
use of real names.  Also, I suspect we have more sheer content than
Wikipedia did at the time, but actually confirming this suspicion would take
a lot of work.


We want to cut the response time to editor applications.  So we are getting
more Editorial Personnel Administrators started, including Richard Jensen, a
retired history professor who has done a lot of work on the wiki lately (I
recommend the Abraham Lincoln article he started); Gareth Leng, U. of
Edinburgh physiologist; Nancy Sculerati, NYU medical school professor; and
Anthony Sebastian, UCSF medical school professor.  That's in addition to
Bernard Haisch, astrophysicist, and me.  This is currently very
science-heavy, I know...something we'll remedy as we go along.



Yesterday, we finally started the Editorial Council


with 39 members:


On the mailing list, which is members-only but which has open archives,


we've just been introducing ourselves; we'll actually start business next


After a post calling for applications from people to fill self-designed
leadership positions,


we've had a number of submissions, most of which are still under review.
Nancy Sculerati will be joining us in an additional editorial role, such as
article approval director, but the details have yet to be settled.  Sorin
Matei, Purdue U. Communications Dept. professor, has proposed that he lead
"Eduzendium," a project that would invite student groups, under the guidance
of professors, to contribute to us for academic credit.  This one is
low-hanging fruit so it's likely we'll take him up on his offer.  Sorin has
also proposed some more technical projects, including one that involves
geocoding wiki data.  There are others people and proposals, as well, but
the Executive Committee, like myself, has been extremely busy.  We'll get
replies out sooner or later.


Another sort of project: there is an entrepreneur who is very interested in
supporting the work of Jason and I on a partnered Citizendium project that
would make a significant new enhancement to MediaWiki--and which would use
Citizendium as the test bed for this enhancement.  Any such enhancements, of
course, will be open to community discussion; the great thing is that
basically he wants *us* to give *him* the software requirements.  This is a
"classic win-win," since Jason and I need the income support, CZ will be
greatly improved by this software (it's a feature I've wanted for a long
time), and the entrepreneur wants to market the servicing of the (free/GPL)
software.  Details anon, pending a signed agreement.


The Executive Committee and other governing bodies are now named on a new
Personnel page:


There you will notice three new additions: Stephen Ewen, one of our many
hard-working constables, has agreed to act as Assistant to the Chief
Constable, relieving some of Ruth Ifcher's workload; Kelly Patterson has
joined us as Fundraising Assistant; and Louise Valmoria has been busy
setting up mailing lists for individual workgroups.


Speaking of mailing lists, Louise has created many lists and is putting
finishing touches on them.  I believe we can expect in the next week or two
the announcement of a few *dozen* new mailing lists, focused on announcing
to editors and authors new developments and policy questions that need
deciding, and directing them to specific wiki pages and forum boards for
further action & interaction.


I think and hope that this will prove instrumental in bringing editors and
editors in particular workgroups together and focused on getting articles
approved and, we hope, recruitment.  The existence of the Editorial Council
may help here, too.  One question we will be addressing is how to improve
the methods and categories of approved articles.


One proposal being discussed on the forums would create a "Proof" page for
copyediting.  Another proposal would have us simply link to approved
versions in page histories and forego a "Draft" page altogether.  Another
would have us designate a stricter category of "Certified" articles, which
can be approved only by people with relatively narrowly-focused expertise on
the topic of the articles, and open up the category of "Approved" articles
in various ways (e.g., to a long-anticipated category of "assistant editors"
or "specialist editors" that would give some approval authority to graduate
students).  Yet another proposal would have us make more prominent use of
the category of Developed articles (now linked from the front page).

These *are*, however, just proposals at this stage.  It's pretty likely that
we'll make some such changes.  As I've said, I'm committed to our finally
adopting an approval process that allows and inspires people to approve
large numbers of articles.  Consider our current stock of 12 very fine
approved articles evidence merely of our first baby steps in working out
what the process should be.


I'm going to see to it that the pace picks up.


Speaking of approved articles, we have finally approved our first Computers
article (about the Linux mascot "Tux").


Congratulations to all involved, and especially to the 18-year-old Josh
Williams who did a lot of the authoring, and the three Computers editors who
stepped up to the plate.  Hope you fellows can approve a bunch more now!


One Citizen has been in communication with the subject of a biography, Gilad
Atzmon, which inspired us to create a new namespace, TI: (for "topic


We're going to use this namespace to place (with permission!)
communications, interviews, and relevant essays from persons who can act as
informants (i.e., interviewees) about topics.  It seems to me the "Tux"
writers also had an e-mail exchange...that would be the namespace to put it.


We have finally allowed everyone permission, once again, to move pages &
their histories, a function previously restricted to constables, simply
because vandals were abusing it.  Now that there aren't any vandals left
(although we did have a visit a few weeks ago from a vandal who had made an
account during the self-registration period), there's no reason not to let
everyone move pages themselves.  Note that we haven't even protected the
main page of the wiki.


I finished an essay for online journal *Edge* called "Who Says We Know: On
the New Politics of Knowledge":



I'm probably forgetting some mentionables...but anyway, that's long enough.
As you can see, we're making excellent progress, and you can expect even
more in the coming months.


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